STAY AT HOME #04
Crisis Du Jour: Petty Déjeuner
[The art happens here]
Annka Kultys Gallery’s online platform dedicated to the showcasing of digital art in its natural habitat, so to speak. The creation in 2020 of [The art happens here] provides a natural extension to the gallery’s offline programme which has as one of its strengths the presentation of “digital natives” or artists making art that engages with technology and the internet.
Annka Kultys is pleased to present two videos from Canadian artist James Knott’s, Crisis Du Jour series. Episode 1 Eggs (2019) and Episode 2 Beans in Isolation (2020) comprise the fourth instalment of the gallery’s online exhibition Stay at home, a presentation of new digital works produced by artists in response to the coronavirus pandemic. On every Sunday of the lockdown during Stay at home, a new artist will be showcased on AKG’s recently launched online platform [The art happens here]. Knott’s videos are on show for the fourth week of Stay at home, following on from Jillian Mayer’s You’ll Be Okay last week, Adad Hannah’s Social Distancing Video Portraits two weeks ago and the opening show, James Irwin’s Surface Collider (23032020).
AKG is also announcing all gallery benefits (i.e., profits after the artist has been compensated in the usual manner) from featured digital works sold via [The art happens here] will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust. The purchasers’ generosity will help to financially support the featured artists during this unprecedented period when non-essential shops are closed, including art museums and commercial galleries, leading to postponed exhibitions for artists, and ensuring at least part of artists’ incomes can be maintained.
Knott’s Crisis Du Jour series explores the mundanity of millennial anxieties through existential monologue, absurdist humour, food and camp drag. Following the pandemic imposed isolation, the artist recently revisited the first episode of Crisis Du Jour, Eggs, filmed in August 2019. Eggs features a poetic monologue to the camera by the artist’s drag alter-ego Petty Déjeuner, who provides a succession of melancholy, knowing, punning and even existentialist observations on how to eat two fried eggs for breakfast.
Beans in Isolation, the second video of the series, and recorded by Knott in response to the advent of social distancing isolation in Toronto, also features the artist in their Petty Déjeuner guise, repeating the format of Eggs with a further monologue to camera. Ostensibly presenting Déjeuner trying to heat up some canned beans (although only ironically as the heat source is a candle), the alter-ego describes our post-pandemic lock-down world as “lonely and hungry.” Déjeuner proceeds to wryly poke fun at the apocalyptic nature of the moment, including sampling Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence lyric “hello darkness my old friend” and bemoaning an unreturned Spice Girls tape lent to a neighbour. The result is a refreshing honesty about genuine longing for the world before the lock-down; and in particular the world that allowed real interaction and physical touch.
James Knott is an emerging, Toronto-based artist whose performance-based practice combines theatre, video and audio art to create immersive and emotionally resonant experiences. Knott’s art explores paradoxical and queer identity, inner dialogue, mental illness and camp theatrics by framing personal narratives and queer experience in poetic retellings, self-mythologizing and auto-iconographic aestheticism.
James Knott was born in 1994 in Toronto where he lives and works.